GWAR has played at other venues in Des Moines, Iowa throughout the years, but this stop on April 19, 2013, with Wilson and Warbeast was their first appearance at Wooly’s, one of the newest venues in the city.
The crowd was fairly youngish at the show with a mix of some older and even a few young children, who were perched on their parents’ shoulders. Many of those in the audience were wearing white t-shirts to prepare for their blood bath. GWAR is not only known for their outlandish costumes, but also for graphic stage performances in which fake bodies are “killed,” and the audience is sprayed with their blood.
Before the show began, you could spot fake heads and body torsos lined up on the stage. The venue had prepared for a mess as a few feet of the floor in front of the stage was protected with black tarps.
While the stage remained black, people chanted GWAR, and the excitement for their set to begin was obvious.
When the band appeared in their signature costumes, the crowd screamed. Lead vocalist Dave Brockie’s (Oderus Urungus) monstrous costume on his upper body also included black stockings on his legs, his bare ass exposed and a large phallus attached to the front of him.
The blood bath began with the first song. A female torso was brought on stage, and blood was squirted from her nipples. The crowd was soaked with blood, and not just the first few rows, but the band uses hoses strong enough to cover rows and rows of people, including anyone standing on the sides trying to avoid contact.
During other songs fake heads were axed or decapitated, again spraying blood on the crowd. Not the type of band to be politically correct, they brought body replicas of Hitler and Jesus on stage, where they were maimed. You wouldn’t expect any less from GWAR; nothing was off limits.
The energy of the crowd never waned throughout the show. It was a continuous flow of head banging, crowd surfing, and mosh pits. The messier the better, most fans seemed to think. Most people weren’t trying to stay out of the path of the blood, but instead jumped right into the mess.
At a GWAR show, it’s less about the music and more about the atmosphere. Each song was fairly indistinguishable from the next except their cover of Kansas’ Carry On Wayward Son. Videos of them performing the song started sweeping the Internet last year. It was a fun take on the original, performed in signature primordial GWAR style.
Towards the end of the show, the lights went down for a brief minute before GWAR came back onstage for a 3-song encore. During this time four girls (including myself) were secretly taken backstage. Onstage, a goon dressed in only a loincloth, threw us over his shoulder while we kicked and screamed, before he shoved each of us through a fake wood chipper. We pretended the chipper was grinding us into pieces, and the audience was sprayed with our blood. One word describes the experience: AWESOME!
As the crowd began to disperse, you could see the majority of the venue’s floor was covered in bright red fake blood. One man laid down and rolled around on the floor to cover himself even more. GWAR came to destroy, kill and maim, and they accomplished their mission. They gave the crowd what they would expect from a GWAR show. If you’ve never experienced a GWAR show — and it is more than a show, it IS an experience — it’s something you should be a part of at least once. But be prepared; you’re going to get bloody.
Watch the video for Carry On My Wayward Son
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